With nearly 49,000 people living in city shelters, including almost 21,000 children—a modern-day record that may well be broken—there has never been more of a need to step back and understand how New Yorkers have confronted poverty and homelessness over time.
The Poor Among Us: A History of Family Poverty and Homelessness in New York City (2013, White Tiger Press), puts current policies in perspective through the lens of nearly 300 years of public and philanthropic efforts to alleviate poverty in New York City. Continue reading
The Historic Districts Council, along with the Union Square Community Coalition (USCC) have been advocating for the designation of Tammany Hall for several years (USCC first asked for its designation in 1984). Finally, at the end of October the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to designate Tammany Hall an individual landmark Continue reading
Here’s a quick look at some of the latest New York history resources to hit the web:
The Bronx Zoo is digitizing three dozen scrapbooks of its first director, William Temple Hornaday (from 1896 to 1926). The work is being done with a grant from the Leon Levy Foundation. The zoo director promoted habitat preservation worldwide, and the scrapbooks include letters, postcards, legal briefs, newspaper clippings and pamphlets. His involvement in the infamous Ota Benga scandal in 1906 is not recorded. Hornaday died in 1937. The collection can be found at the Wildlife Conservation Society Library and Archives website. Continue reading
City of Ambition: FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern New York (W. W. Norton & Company, 2013) by urban politics historian Mason B. Williams is a loving exploration of the history of the New Deal and its role in the making of modern New York City.
The story of a remarkable collaboration between Franklin Roosevelt and Fiorello La Guardia, this is a case study in creative political leadership in the midst of a devastating depression. Roosevelt and La Guardia were an odd couple: patrician president and immigrant mayor, fireside chat and tabloid cartoon, pragmatic Democrat and reform Republican. But together, as leaders of America’s two largest governments in the depths of the Great Depression, they fashioned a route to recovery for the nation and the master plan for a great city. Continue reading
Drifting: Two Weeks on the Hudson (SUNY Press, 2011) is a candid account of the author Mike Freeman’s two-week canoe trip down the Hudson River which offers an introspective and humorous look at both the river and recession-era America.
New to fatherhood and fresh from ten years in an Alaskan village, Freeman sets out to relearn his country, and realizes it’s in a far greater midlife crisis than he could ever be. With an eye on the Hudson’s past, he addresses America’s present anxieties—from race, gender, and marriage to energy, labor, and warfare—with empathy and honesty, acknowledging the difficulties surrounding each issue without succumbing to pessimism or ideology. Continue reading
The annual guided walking tour of Lower Manhattan featuring the Great Crash of 1929, sponsored by the Museum of American Finance, will be held on Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 1 pm, (no tour in inclement weather).
This is the 26th anniversary of this unique tour, the only regularly-scheduled event that commemorates the Great Crash of 1929, the Panic of 1907 and the 1987 stock market collapse. It delves into the political, financial, real estate and architectural history of Wall Street and New York City. Continue reading
Affordable housing, historic preservation, and neighborhood organizations representing a cross-section of New Yorkers joined forces today to hold a press conference in front of the Real Estate Board of NY (REBNY) headquarters slamming what they say is the board’s recent campaign to paint landmarking as undermining New York City’s affordability, and the cause of a reduction in the economic and racial diversity of New York’s residents. Continue reading
One of the first battles of the American Revolution, the Battle of Brooklyn (a.k.a. the Battle of Long Island) took place on August 27, 1776 in what is now Western Brooklyn around Prospect Park and Greenwood Cemetery.
This Saturday the historic Districts Council of New York City is hosting a Battle of Brooklyn Scavenger Hunt, co-sponsored by the urban archaeology firm Chrysalis and Green-Wood Cemetery. Continue reading
Quietly, a line of singers circled a lone tree on the edge of the Harlem River, in the shadow of the 145th Street Bridge, late Sunday afternoon on September 29. The group swelled in numbers as the shadows lengthened. Hums, moans, soft cries and low tones began to form a chorus of spirit noises as the performance “Saved” got underway. Continue reading
Before 1913, when the Seventeenth Amendment requiring the direct election of U.S. Senators went into effect, the state legislature elected them. In the pre-Seventeenth Amendment era, 150 years ago, one of the most tangled and acrimonious U.S. Senate elections took place.
The term of the incumbent Republican U.S. Senator, Preston King of Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County, was set to expire on March 3, 1863. King sought reelection but powerful forces within the Republican Party led by the aging party boss Thurlow Weed and former U.S. Senator William H. Seward opposed King, as did the Democratic Party. King’s political fate would be decided by the newly elected 1863 legislature after it organized itself for business on January 6, 1863. Continue reading
The New York Times’s Op-Docs and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) have debuted an immersive, interactive multimedia series on urban highrise living. The series, “A Short History of the Highrise,” had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival and launches today on NYTimes.com.
The series unfolds in four short, interactive films that viewers can navigate using touch commands like swipe, pinch, pull and tap. On desktop and laptop computers, users can mouse over features and click to navigate. Smartphone users can view the four films via the New York Times Mobile Web site. Continue reading
The New-York Historical Society has announced eight fellowship recipients for the 2013-14 academic year. Leveraging its collections of documents, artifacts, and works of art documenting American history from the perspective of New York, New-York Historical fellowships provide scholars with material resources and an intellectual community to develop new research and publications that illuminate complex issues of the past. Continue reading
What were the consequences of the 1568 revolt which began in the Low Countries against the Habsburg Empire and lasted 80 years? People were displaced – some fleeing the ravages of war; others were fleeing religious persecution.
A disconnect from the Empire meant a disruption in normal commercial activity. Markets and waters once friendly turned hostile. Trading companies eventually replaced the former commercial routes and exploration for new routes and markets was undertaken. On October 5th in New York City five Dutch and Belgian speakers will give illustrated lectures about the effects of this revolt on the Low Countries and the settlement of North America. Continue reading
On September 29, 2013 a walking tour of lower Manhattan which traces Jewish history will celebrate “Arrival Day”, the day in 1654 that Jews first landed in North America.
The tour begins at the flagpole in Peter Minuit Park near the Staten Island ferry that commemorates the arrival in 1654 of 23 Jews in Lower Manhattan (then New Amsterdam) after a harrowing journey from Recife Brazil. Continue reading
The Brooklyn Bridge was completed about 130 years ago in 1883, and remains an icon of New York architecture.
However, Brooklyn looked much different back then, as seen by this illustration done soon after the bridge was completed. How did the illustrator even get up there? Continue reading
Director Pamela Green and Co-Director Jarik Van Sluijs, nominated for an Emmy as co-producers for the 2010 documentary Bhutto, are in the last week of a Kickstarter campaign to raise financing for their documentary-in-the-making about an early New York film director, Be Natural: The untold story of Alice Guy-Blaché.
In 1895, 23-year-old Alice Guy was invited to the Lumière Brothers’ screening. In 1896, at the age of 23 she made one of the first narrative films in history. A year later, she became the first head of production at Gaumont’s studios. Alice went on to to start her own studio in Flushing, New York in 1910, Solax. She wrote, directed, or produced more than a 1,000 films over her 20-year-long career, but is little remembered today. Continue reading
You may have noticed that the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) have been making some noise lately about how much of Lower Manhattan has landmark protection. This is really no surprise to anyone who has been paying any attention for the past 50 years – Lower Manhattan includes some of New York City’s oldest concentrations of historic architecture and strong communities who have invested a lot of time, energy and money in maintaining, protecting and revitalizing them.
What’s strange is that the folks at REBNY think this is a bad thing: “We think the city’s future is tied to growth. We think we need to generate new housing, generate new jobs, that generates new tax dollars. If we start landmarking more and more of the city, we are landmarking away the city’s future economic growth” REBNY President Steven Spinola recently told NY1. Continue reading
The Frick Collection presents its seventy-fifth anniversary season of classical music concerts in the elegant setting of the museum’s Music Room.
Debuting in 1938, just three years after The Frick Collection opened to the public; the concert series is one of the most celebrated in New York City and has delighted thousands of visitors over the years with world-class performances ranging from solo recitals to chamber music groups to early music ensembles. Continue reading
The recent exploits of Nik Wallenda at the Grand Canyon (the video might make you weak in the knees) call to mind a North Country man who once performed daredevil stunts and amazing feats more than a century ago. The most famous effort by Robert Emmet Odlum, a St. Lawrence County native, earned him footnote status in the lore of a famous American landmark.
While Odlum’s origins (he was born August 31, 1851) have been reported as Washington, DC, and Memphis, Tennessee, he was born in St. Lawrence County, New York. That information is in stone, literally―Ogdensburg as his birthplace is carved into the obelisk atop Odlum’s grave. (He was buried in Washington, which may account for some of the confusion.)
Robert’s entire life was linked to water, beginning with the St. Lawrence River, where it is said he learned to swim as a very young child. That information comes from his mother, who wrote Robert’s life story after he died. Continue reading
Everyone in New York City is pretty familiar with the sight of Handsome Cabs, the horse-drawn carriages that take visitors on tours of Central Park. But that wasn’t always the horse’s job. Sometimes goats pulled people around!
According to the Parks Department, “In 1869 goat carriage rides were introduced into Central Park to cater to children.” They were a popular sight on the Mall. Continue reading